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Midrash Tanchuma Vayachel 6:

שָׁאַל רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יְהוֹצָדָק אֶת רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָן. אָמַר לוֹ: אַתָּה בַּעַל הַגָּדָה, אֱמֹר לִי הֵיאַךְ בָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת הָעוֹלָם (מִשֶּׁבָּרָא עוֹלָמוֹ בָּרָא אֶת הָאוֹר). אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָן, כְּשֶׁבִּקֵּשׁ לִבְרֹא אֶת הָעוֹלָם, נִתְעַטֵּף בָּאוֹרָה וּבָרָא אֶת הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: עֹטֶה אוֹר כַּשַּׂלְמָה (תהלים קד, ב), וְאַחַר כָּךְ נוֹטֶה שָׁמַיִם כַּיְרִיעָה (תהלים קד, ב).

...Rabbi Shimon the son of Yehotzadak asked of Rabbi Shmuel about this. He said to him: You are an authority on aggadic traditions, so tell me, how did the Holy One, blessed be He, create His world? When He created the world, did He create the light first? Rabbi Shmuel the son of Nachman answered: When He decided to create His world, He surrounded Himself with light, and then He created the world, as is said: Who coverest Thyself with light as a garment, and that is followed by: Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain (Ps. 104:2). Therefore Scripture states: The opening of Thy word giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple (ibid. 119:130).

What is this light? Is it the Ohr HaGanuz? Is it the Ohr En Sof? Is it something else? Any information anyone has to explain this Midrash would be welcome as an answer thank you.

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    I think it refers to Torah; as Psalm 119:130 implies (see: Yalkut Shimoni on Torah 414:1)
    – Shmuel
    Mar 27, 2023 at 13:29
  • @Shmuel that Alshich implies that it is the Or En Sof, which is likened to Hashem's Ratzon in Chassidus, and Torah & Mitzvot are Hashem's Ratzon, so I think both are true, but tzarich iyun
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Mar 27, 2023 at 13:37
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    ואמנם המלך אין רואים אותו כשהוא ערום ולזאת צריך לעשות בחינת לבושים וכלים מכלים שונים שיתגלה בהן אלקותו ית׳ והיינו מ״ש ודברת בם בדברי תורה כי התורה היא בחי׳ לבוש שבה מתלבש אור א״ס ב״ה וכמ״ש עוטה אור כשלמה (לקוטי תורה אדמור הזקן, פרשת ראה דף י״ז)
    – שלום
    Mar 27, 2023 at 14:49
  • @שלום any particular proof that this is referring to the same ohr as the midrash above?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Mar 27, 2023 at 15:13

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I liked @MauriceMizrahi’s explanation!

I found another explanation:

The Midrash quotes the pasuk in Tehillim 104:2 as a proof that Hashem surrounded Himself with light,”עֹֽטֶה־א֭וֹר כַּשַּׂלְמָ֑ה נוֹטֶ֥ה שָׁ֝מַ֗יִם כַּיְרִיעָֽה, “wrapped in a robe of light; You spread the heavens like a tent cloth.” In the Tikunei Zohar 55b:8 (https://www.sefaria.org/Midrash_Tanchuma%2C_Vayakhel.6.1?lang=bi&p2=Psalms.104.2&lang2=bi&w2=Tikkunei%20Zohar&lang3=en) it metions, אִיהִי טַלִּית דְּקוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא, וּבָהּ אִתְעַטֵּף קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא, that this refers to the Talit of Hashem, and with it He wraps Himself.

Practically this is what it could mean: The Gemera in Rosh Hashanah 17b says, ״וַיַּעֲבוֹר ה׳ עַל פָּנָיו וַיִּקְרָא״. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: אִלְמָלֵא מִקְרָא כָּתוּב, אִי אֶפְשָׁר לְאוֹמְרוֹ. מְלַמֵּד שֶׁנִּתְעַטֵּף הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כִּשְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר, וְהֶרְאָה לוֹ לְמֹשֶׁה סֵדֶר תְּפִלָּה. אָמַר לוֹ: כׇּל זְמַן שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל חוֹטְאִין — יַעֲשׂוּ לְפָנַי כַּסֵּדֶר הַזֶּה וַאֲנִי מוֹחֵל לָהֶם. “The verse states: “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed” (Exodus 34:6). Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Were it not explicitly written in the verse, it would be impossible to say this, as it would be insulting to God’s honor. The verse teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, wrapped Himself in a prayer shawl like a prayer leader and showed Moses the structure of the order of the prayer. He said to him: Whenever the Jewish people sin, let them act before Me in accordance with this order. Let the prayer leader wrap himself in a prayer shawl and publicly recite the thirteen attributes of mercy, and I will forgive them.”

The Mahrasha (ibid) says, נתעטף הקב"ה באותו טלית לבנה שנתעטף בברייתו של עולם שעליו נאמר עוטה אור כשלמה שמבהיק מסוף העולם ועד סופו. Hashem wrapped Himself in the same tallit that he wrapped when he created the world, of that which it says שמבהיק מסוף העולם ועד סופו, that it glows from one end of the world to another. So maybe (I'm not sure if its the same light) this light which goes from one end of the world to another represents the אור הגנוז, since the Gemera in Chagigah 12a says:

כִּדְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר. דְּאָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: אוֹר שֶׁבָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּיוֹם רִאשׁוֹן, אָדָם צוֹפֶה בּוֹ מִסּוֹף הָעוֹלָם וְעַד סוֹפוֹ. כֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּסְתַּכֵּל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּדוֹר הַמַּבּוּל וּבְדוֹר הַפְּלַגָּה וְרָאָה שֶׁמַּעֲשֵׂיהֶם מְקוּלְקָלִים — עָמַד וּגְנָזוֹ מֵהֶן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וְיִמָּנַע מֵרְשָׁעִים אוֹרָם״. “Rabbi Elazar said: The light that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created on the first day was not that of the sun but a different kind of light, through which man could observe from one end of the world to the other. But when the Holy One, Blessed be He, looked upon the generation of the Flood and the generation of the Dispersion and saw that their ways were corrupt and that they might misuse this light for evil, He arose and concealed it from them, as it is stated: “And from the wicked their light is withheld” (Job 38:15).”

This would show that this light is therefore the Talit which represents the Or Haganuz (or some type of light that goes from one end to another).

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  • Great answer! why did you delete your answer about the fish food? i think potentially you had the beginning of a good answer Mar 27, 2023 at 14:56
  • Thanks! With regards to the fish food, I need to look into it more to provide a better answer and then write it up instead of the picture so more people can understand Mar 27, 2023 at 15:19
  • I really appreciate this answer Avishai, as well as all your contributions in general! I would have marked it as the solution, however שלום's answer brings the sources I found most useful first.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Apr 27, 2023 at 10:05
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ואמנם המלך אין רואים אותו כשהוא ערום, ולזאת צריך לעשות בחינת לבושים וכלים מכלים שונים שיתגלה בהן אלקותו ית׳ והיינו מ״ש ודברת בם בדברי תורה כי התורה היא בחי׳ לבוש שבה מתלבש אור א״ס ב״ה וכמ״ש עוטה אור כשלמה (לקוטי תורה אדמור הזקן, פרשת ראה דף י״ז)

Which means: just as a king must not be seen while undressed, so too, in order for G-dliness to be to be revealed, we must create “garments” and “vessels”, by speaking words of Torah, for Torah is likened to a “garment”, in which Hashem’s infinite light is invested, as it is written: “He (Hashem) wears light (of Torah) as a garment”

Also, the Maharsha (Rosh Hashanah 17b) brings down from the Mekubalim, that this is the same concept as what the Gemara says there, that when Hashem told Moshe about the 13 attributes of mercy, he wrapped himself in a white Tallit.

The Kedushas Levi (פרשת כי תשא) explains, that this represents Hashem lowering and investing Himself into the worlds, in order to relate to them with mercy, according to their level.

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Read on:

R. Judah the son of Ilai said: This may be likened to a king who wished to build a palace in a dark place. First he lit candles, and then he built (the palace). The Holy One, blessed be He, did likewise. The world was dark, as it is said: And darkness was on the face of the deep (Gen. 1:2), and so He wrapped himself with light and created the world. Hence, the opening of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple (Ps. 119:130). The righteous learn from the Holy One, blessed be He, that they should begin with light. How do we know this? At the time that Moses told Bezalel that the Holy One, blessed be He, had said Build Me a Sanctuary, Moses told him: Go build the Tabernacle. What did he begin with? Bezalel began with the ark. Scripture states elsewhere: Give to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning (Prov. 9:9). Moses told him to begin by building the Tabernacle, but he began instead with the ark. Why? Because the ark is the place where the Torah, which is the light of the world and the world-to-come, is kept. [Midrash Tanchuma, Vayakhel 6:2-3]

The Midrash also says that God looked in the Torah and created the world. [Gen. R. 1:1] To "look", God "needed" light. (The Torah speaks in the language of men, say Chazal.)

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  • I did but I am still left a bit confused. It appears that He wrapped Himself in the light of Torah. What does that mean, practically?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Mar 27, 2023 at 13:40
  • See for example sefer תהיה רצויה מעשי (vol. 1, p. 21) where it links this concept to the fact that G-ds wisdom was infused into our world so to speak. Maybe that is the practical implication of this Midrash. See also:"tablet.otzar.org/#/book/107261/p/26/t/9244746191234/fs/… - which says something familiair, that Torah is this light.
    – Shmuel
    Mar 27, 2023 at 13:43

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